Notary public job

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Robert Hill works as a notary public in his family practice in Northern Ireland. Notary publics are responsible for authenticating legal documents for use abroad. These documents have a variety of legal purposes.

What does your notary public job involve?

Working as a notary public, I have to ensure that the various documents which are presented to me are accurate and completed appropriately for the relevant purpose or jurisdiction. I must confirm that they are understood by the people signing them, or swearing them under oath. I then have to formally seal them.

What documents do you deal with?

They could be purchase documents for a foreign property, or certifying copies of relevant documents for people who wish to get married abroad. I also witness documents for use in court proceedings in other countries or for various company matters, such as appointing attorneys overseas or registering foreign patents.

What does sealing involve?

An essential part of my work is my notarial seal, which I apply to all documents after I have notarised them. This confirms that they have been properly authenticated. Details of all notarial acts and the identity of the clients must then be recorded in my register, and a copy of all documents must be kept in my notarial protocol.

What was your route into your notary public job?

Like most notaries, I am a qualified practising solicitor and notary public duties represent only a small part of my activities. I am following a family involvement as my father and grandfather were also notary publics in this practice. With their support the appropriate application was made to the Lord Chancellor and my appointment was approved.

Why did you choose this type of work?

The family tradition played a part, but I like the fact that the job of a notary public is global and not just restricted to the jurisdiction in which the solicitor is entitled and authorised to practice.

What training have you received?

I have completed formal training as a solicitor and numerous years of practice.

What do you like best about your notary public job?

I enjoy the spread of expertise required – it is different from my normal work as a solicitor in the Northern Irish jurisdiction.

What are the skills needed?

You need to be flexible to deal with each individual case. The circumstances of the people or company involved are usually quite different.

James's route to his notary public job

  • Degree in Law (LLB).
  • Law Society examinations.
  • Law Society of Northern Ireland qualified solicitor.

James's notary public tips

  • Find an interest in whatever matters arise.
  • Learn to be patient in your work.

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Salary of a notary public

  • The Law Society recommends minimum starting salaries of £14,450 in the regions and £16,200 in London, but the larger commercial firms tend to offer higher salaries.
  • A typical salary at senior level, or for those with experience, is £50,000.

Getting a job as a notary public

  • There are about 1,000 notaries in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The vast majority are also qualified solicitors.
  • All candidates who wish to become notaries must either have a law degree or be qualified as solicitors or barristers. They must then complete the Postgraduate Diploma in Notarial Practice, which is offered by the Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education. In Scotland all notaries must be qualified solicitors.
  • The work of notaries is regulated by an organisation called the Faculty Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury. All notaries must renew their practicing certificates each year by showing they have followed the strict rules set down by this office.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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